The Park Record editorial
April 20, 2010
Park City has come a long way from the early Earth Day celebrations when the Garbage Gurus paraded around town banging on trash-can lids to advertise the town’s new recycling center. The center was a modest affair in an old railroad shed, manned by volunteers and frequented by residents hand-delivering empty wine bottles and old newspapers.
These days the city takes being green seriously with a full-time environmental manager on staff and a website dedicated to reducing the community’s carbon footprint. And elected officials from the Marsac Building to the county courthouse in Coalville have a mandate from voters to regulate new growth, preserve open space, support alternative energy sources and incorporate curbside recycling with the regular garbage pickup.
But the battle is far from won.
Locally there is still a lot to be done to monitor and maintain air quality, reduce traffic and preserve meadows, hillsides, ridgelines and wildlife habitat areas. Park City, for instance, is embroiled in a controversy over a proposed large development on the hillside overlooking Old Town. Throughout Summit County, small towns are struggling to maintain their character amid sprawling subdivisions.
The remedy is an informed electorate, educated planners who are familiar with the latest tools for smart growth, and consistent enforcement of zoning rules and regulations.
Beyond the county’s borders, residents will need to pay close attention to statewide and national issues too. Salt Lake County is currently soliciting input on a long-range plan to protect the mountain range that both separates and links the Wasatch Front and Back. Summit County residents have a vested interest in adding their input to that plan and can do so by filling out the survey online at http://www.wasatchcanyons.slco.org/
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Finally, while it feels good to separate brown and green glass, buy wind-power shares and drive a hybrid, local efforts can all be undone on the national level. On Tuesday, Utah Senator Bob Bennett distributed a press release announcing that he is cosponsoring legislation to block implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act, and last week Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch ridiculed a recent federal court decision limiting energy development on federal lands.
Furthermore, the Utah Congressional delegation, along with its counterparts in the state legislature, this year supported resolutions claiming that climate change is a hoax.
Hoax or not, most of Bennett and Hatch’s constituents would rather not live under a cloud of smog, or taste industrial effluent in their drinking water. Maybe on this Earth Day they will finally get the message.